Inviting Friends and Family

There may be occasions throughout your time at UC Santa Cruz when you want to invite extended relatives or friends to visit you in the United States. They will require a B-2 (Visitor for Pleasure) visa to enter the U.S.

Inviting Extended Family to the U.S.

Extended family (parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, etc.) and domestic partners are not eligible to come to the U.S. as “dependents” in J-2 status. They must instead apply for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa or come to the U.S. under the visa waiver program. To facilitate the process of applying for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa, students or scholars can do the following (optional):

  1. Write a letter of invitation
    • Include the purpose of the visit, your relationship to the individual, a statement of your status here, and the length of time the family will be visiting (usually less than three months). If the individual visiting has a job to which they plan to return, it is good to mention it. If the student or scholar plans to provide for the individual’s support while they are in the U.S., include that information as well.
  2. Obtain a letter of verification
    • Undergraduate students can request an Enrollment Verification from the Registrar’s Office to formally confirm their student status at UCSC. Please visit the registrar’s website to learn more about this service.
    • Graduate students can request a letter from their department explaining that they are in good standing and verifying any funding being provided by the department.
    • Scholars can request a letter from the department staff person who assists visiting scholars or the host professor. The letter should indicate that you are a scholar in good standing in the department, your reason for being here, that you wish to return to your home country at the end of your research or teaching, and, if applicable, the amount of funding being provided by the department.
  3. 3. Request a financial statement from your bank (if no salary is being received)
    • Providing family members with the above documents may improve their chances of obtaining a visa. However, there is no guarantee a visa will be issued. The success of the applicant’s visa request lies in their ability to prove that they have no intention of staying permanently in the U.S.

Entering under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows nationals of certain countries to visit the United States for up to 90 days for business or tourism without the need for a B-1/B-2 visa.

You can see the list of VWP-eligible countries here.

Visitors from VWP-eligible countries must make sure of the following before entering the U.S.: 

  1. They have registered and received authorization to travel through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
    Citizens of Bermuda, Canada, the Marshall Islands, and Micronesia are not required to apply for ESTA.
  2. Their passports are valid for six months past their expected stay in the United States, unless their country of nationality appears on this U.S. Department of State list. If the country is included on the list, the visitor’s passport needs to be valid until his or her expected stay in the U.S.

Even if the traveler is from a VWP-eligible nation, they must apply for a B-2 visa if they plan to stay in the U.S. for more than 90 days for tourism.

Preparing for B-2 Visa Application

Your visitors should first schedule an appointment on the website of the nearest U.S. Embassy/Consulate. Then, they should complete the visa application form.

Visitors should also prepare documents that prove the following points prior to the scheduled appointment:

  • The visitor’s intent to return to their home country due to sufficient economic and social ties.
    • Examples:
      • Proof of continuing employment, such as a letter from the employer stating that visitors will return to their job after the visit to the U.S.
      • Proof of property ownership (house, land, apartment, etc.)
      • Bank statements of any accounts they maintain at home
      • Proof that close family members remain in the home country
  • Proof that each visitor has sufficient financial resources to cover the expenses of their visit to the U.S. and their return to the home country, such as a bank statement. (Although the government does not give a specific figure, we recommend showing that you have at least USD $1000 per month of your stay in the U.S. to be considered “sufficient”)
  • Evidence of the purpose/reason for the trip and its short-term nature. 

Supplementary Documents You Can Help Provide

The U.S. consular officer makes the decision to issue B visa status based primarily on documents showing the aforementioned points. Officers are primarily concerned with ensuring that the visitors have no plans to remain in the U.S. permanently.

There are additional documents that you can supply in addition to the ones listed above that may help your visitor’s chances. The following documents are suggested but not required:

  • An invitation letter from you. Include the purpose of the visit, your relationship to the visitor, a statement of your status in the U.S., and the length of time they will be visiting. 
  • If you will provide financial support for the visitors (including room and board during the visit), you can submit evidence such as a copy of your bank statement to prove that you have sufficient resources to support them.
    Alternatively, there is a Form I-134 Affidavit of Support you can submit for this purpose. You can download the Form I-134 here: http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-134.pdf
    NOTE: If your visitors will pay for their expenses themselves, you are not required to complete Form I-134.
  • A printout of your I-94 record and a copy of your I-20/DS-2019/H-1B Approval Notice (Form I-797) as proof of your legal stay in the U.S.

Entering the U.S. on the Basis of a B-2 Visa

Visitors should also double-check that their passports are valid for at least six months past their expected stay in the U.S. unless their country of nationality appears on this U.S. Department of State list. If the country is included on the list, the visitor’s passport needs to be valid until his or her expected stay in the U.S. 

Generally, individuals entering the U.S. on the basis of a B-2 visa are admitted for a period of up to six months. However, the immigration officer may admit an individual for more or less time depending on the applicant.

Citizens from Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda

  • Canadian citizens traveling to the U.S. for pleasure and tourism purposes do not require a non-immigrant visa, and do not have to apply for ESTA.
  • Mexican citizens must have a Border Crossing Card which will act as their B-2 visa.
  • Bermudan citizens do not require a non-immigrant visa for travel up to 180 days, as long as the travel is for pleasure and tourism purposes.
  • Visitors may still need to apply for a non-immigrant visa depending on the purpose of the visit. Please review the visa requirements and details on the Department of State website. 

Health and Travel Insurance (For All Visitors)

When visiting the United States, health and travel insurance are essential. Medical bills can add up quickly, and even minor illnesses during your visitor’s stay might become large expenses. Visitors should secure appropriate health and travel insurance for the duration of their stay, whether in their home country or in the United States.

Review online tips on how to get adequate travel insurance. Health insurance policies should cover major medical expenses for at least USD $50,000 and have a low deductible.

In this section

Last modified: Nov 21, 2023